The single greatest American sporting event of the year is upon us once more. (Don’t @ me, Super Bowl). Sixty-eight teams. Seven rounds. Sixty-seven games, including the First Four games earlier this week. Single elimination. One winner. Buzzer-beating shots, upsets and Cinderella stories; they’re all part of the frenzied action where sports fans are treated to multiple games happening simultaneously across several networks.
March Madness is such an epic and momentous extended sporting event that figuring out exactly where and how to watch specific games and teams can sometimes get confusing. Especially for casual viewers who decide on a whim to fill out an office bracket.
This year’s television schedule is split across the four traditional channels: CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV. However, if you’re like me and can’t spend your day blissfully parked in front of the TV, the tournament is available on a wide range of apps, streaming devices, and video content platforms.
Mind the App
The NCAA has made things a little less chaotic the last few years by centralizing all tourney streaming in the March Madness Live app. For desktop viewers covertly streaming games next to that super important email or spreadsheet tab, the main web app is your best bet.
However, the March Madness Live app does come with some caveats depending on which network is airing which game. The 21 games televised by CBS will all be available for free through the app without requiring a cable login, but for the three Turner-owned channels (TNT, TBS, and TruTV) you’ll need a cable or satellite login to access the live stream.
Alas, even if you don’t even own a TV anymore, you’re still subject to its whims. Make sure to check the full TV schedule not only for what time games start during the first few rounds of the tourney, but which network is airing them.
Another catch: once the Final Four starts on Saturday, March 21, TBS is airing the semifinals and championship, so all games will require a login.
The Best Media Streaming Devices
March Madness Everywhere
If you’re not watching on a desktop computer, the NCAA and Turner Sports are making live-streamed games available for the first time on almost a dozen other officially supported devices and platforms.
You can download the March Madness Live app for your smartphone, tablet, smart TV, streaming device, or even VR headset. Check out the full list of supported devices and services below, with links to download the app on your platform of choice:
There are also two virtual reality options, which give viewers 360-degree game experiences from multiple camera angles, live stats, and commentary powered by Intel True VR technology. Only 21 games will be broadcast in VR, and you need to buy separate “tickets” if you want the experience.
You can purchase a full tournament ticket for access to all 21 games, or buy a single game ticket. The VR apps let you watch live gaves, check your bracket and real-time scores, and access “exclusive on-demand content” of some sort. The two VR app options are:
The VR apps are only available in the US, US territories, and Bermuda.
The Best Video Streaming Services
Options for Cord Cutters
However, as mentioned, all of these apps require a cable login or separate VR packages if you want to access every game. For the true cord cutters, there are a few other options, most of which have free trials if you’re really desperate to stream the games without paying:
- Sling TV, which is available on a variety of streaming devices, has a game-by-game guide to watching the tourney on its service. Sling Blue ($40/mo.) package subscribers have access to all three Turner channels—TBS, TNT, and TruTV—and Sling Orange ($25/mo.) customers have TNT and TBS and can add TruTV for $5 per month with the Comedy Extra add-on. Sling TV also comes with a one-week trial if you want to sign up just for the tournament
- CBS All Access subscribers can live stream all the games broadcast on CBS
- DirecTV NOW is another new player on the scene, with a basic package that gives you access to TBS, TNT, and TruTV and a channel lookup tool to find a live CBS feed in your area
- Sony Playstation Vue lets you access both multi-view streaming and live scores, available on PS4 and other supported devices. Check out this support article for download and setup instructions
- YouTube TV is another option that lets you sign into the March Madness Live app with a free trial, or pay for the $35/mo. package
- Hulu With Live TV gets you all four channels with a $40/mo. package, and there’s a one-week trial, but check to make sure the live stream you want is available.
Whether you’re at work, on the go, or at home without a cable subscription, there’s a streaming app or service combination for everyone if you’re creative enough. Go forth and binge some college basketball.